Barak proposes more inclusive coalition, Kadima refutes

Livni at economic forum: Anyone who hopes to weaken the US president for political reasons doesn't understand the consequences for Israel.

Tzipi Livni and 311 (photo credit: Assaf Shila, Israel San)
Tzipi Livni and 311
(photo credit: Assaf Shila, Israel San)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak and opposition head Tzipi Livni both spoke at the Socio-Economic Forum put on by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry on Tuesday.
Barak said, "I believe with all of my heart that it [peace] is possible, and it depends on the leadership abilities of both sides to appreciate that. We have already had critical moments in the past and we proved our strength and unity. I am calling out to the Prime Minister and to the speaker who spoke before me, Tzipi Livni." He continued, "If it is necessary to widen the base of the government at this time, then this is the moment to do so."
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The Kadima spokesman's office issued a response to  Barak's call for a unified government. The statement said, "Just yesterday, Barak cast great doubt on the the seriousness of this government's intentions to make peace, the same government that he helped build. Today, he wants Kadima to provide him with a kashrut certificate to enable his continued position there."
The statement continued, "Kadima stands on its principles since the elections and until this day, they have not changed; whether Barak likes it or not, this is the coalition that chose Netanyahu, this is the coalition that brought up Barak, and this is the coalition that Kadima plans to replace."
Speaking before Barak, Livni discussed the country's leadership and the economic importance of Israel's foreign policy. Singling out Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, she said, "When one behaves in such a severe fashion towards visiting foreign ministers, it is difficult to see how in the next discussions on the upgrading of economic ties between Israel and Europe, how those same ministers who previously supported the upgrades, will not come with a different [negative] approach."
On the subject of ties with the United States, Livni said that "Israel's relationship with the US is critical to its security." She went on to criticize Netanyahu's handling of the recent crisis with the US, saying that he let it get out of hand. Livni continued, "Anyone who for, political reasons, hopes to weaken the US president - does not understand what consequences that may have for Israel."
In other news at the economic forum on Tuesday, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz spoke positively of Israel's recovery from the global recession at the Socioeconomic Forum organized by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry on Tuesday. He emphasized that Israeli policymakers must focus on enacting sound long-term economic policies, not stop-gap measures, if they wish to continue economic growth and strengthen the recovery.
"The way out of the economic recession is not with emergency steps but with long term [moves] over the economic horizon. [Policies] to continue growth, to reduce unemployment - to take care of the issues within the Arab and Haredi [sectors]," said Steinitz.
Paraphrasing US President Obama Steinitz also pointed out that the Israeli economy isn't out of the woods yet.
 "A slow even painful recovery in the US and Europe is likely to affect us." He added, "We haven't returned to normalcy. We must continue with anti-recessionary policies - the biannual budget, and the reduction of the numbers of illegal foreign workers."
Steinitz was also keen to dispel any rumors of clashes between him and Bank of Israel head Stanley Fischer, praising the Bank of Israel for its cooperation with in maintaining a stable economy.
"We must be take care to maintain a reasonable interest rate spread between us and the rest of the world," Steinitz declared. "I am very happy with the cooperation of the Bank of Israel in the past year on this matter, even if at times things may have appeared differently."